Bali Health & Safety Guide | Fast Cover

Bali Health and Safety Guide

The complete health and safety guide with helpful tips that cover everything from how to avoid Bali Belly to avoiding motorcycle mishaps for travellers headed to Bali, Indonesia.

Bali is an alluring island with scenic views and pulsating nightlife. It rivals the beauty of the Pacific islands and offers tourists endless bargains.

This health and safety guide explains the travel scams and risks you could come across in Bali. It's packed with helpful tips that cover everything from how to avoid Bali belly to dodging moped mishaps so that you can have a safe, healthy and fun holiday!

Is Bali a safe travel destination to visit?

Most travellers to Bali ask the same question: is Bali safe to visit?

Some of the other most frequently asked questions include:

  • “Are the roads safe?”
  • “Will I get Bali belly?”
  • “Will I get alcohol poisoning?”
  • “Can I drink the water?”
  • “Will there be a terrorist attack?”
  • “Will I catch a disease?”
  • “What happens if there is a disaster?”
  • “What if I get offered drugs?”

Let’s get the statistics out of the way. According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT):

  • 39 Australians died in Bali between 2011 and 2012.
  • In 2012 there were 8 Australians attacked and injured, 36 arrested, 18 jailed and 93 who sought consular assistance.
  • Alcohol, drugs and traffic incidents are the primary problems encountered by Australian travellers in Bali.
  • From May 2015 to May 2016, a total of 59 Australians died in Bali and a further 121 were hospitalised for serious injuries or illnesses, according to The Adelaide Advertiser.

These stats may sound scary, but the best way to minimise these risks on the island is to be informed and aware.

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What are some of the risks and dangers in Bali?

Some examples of the risks and causes of injuries in Bali include:

Traffic Accidents

Over 150 victims turn up to Bali’s main hospital each day seeking treatment from traffic incidents.

Terrorism

The 2002 Bali bombings killed 202 people (including 88 Australians) and injured a further 209. Bombings throughout Indonesia in 2004, 2005 and 2009 have led the Australian Government to issue strong travel warnings:

  • All travellers to Indonesia must be extremely cautious especially in Bali, Lombok, and Jakarta.
  • There is a high threat of terrorism against Westerners, and the Indonesian Government has increased security across the country in response.
Flooding

The best time to travel is between June and September in the dry season. Bali’s climate is humid from October to March, bringing the highest chance of heavy rain and flooding. During this time:

  • The roads become unsafe and there’s an increased risk of vehicle accidents.
  • There is higher risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases and infections.
  • Poor sanitation may become an issue if there is significant flooding.
Crime
  • Petty crime and opportunistic theft happens often in Bali. Thieves are very good at snatching bags or you may be short-changed while shopping or exposed to credit card fraud.
  • Violent crime is on the rise. According to Smartraveller there have been increased reports of armed muggings and street robberies, especially in the Kuta area.
  • Theft has also been reported in accommodation from budget backpacker’s hostels up to luxurious villas.
Sexual Assault

Sexual assault does occur in the popular tourist areas and is usually coupled with drink spiking.

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Claim Example*

Harold was robbed one night when he was returning to his hotel. The thief pushed him up against a wall and took his bag containing his camera, iPhone and wallet.

Harold got back to his hotel and told hotel reception about the incident. He also reported the theft to the police the next morning and obtained a written copy of the police report in English to submit with his claim for the stolen bag and its contents.

*Stories are fictitious examples drawn from the experiences of Fast Cover travellers and staff. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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Why do I need travel insurance for Bali?

According to DFAT, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. It’s that simple.

The Australian Government won’t pay for any medical or evacuation expenses if you’re injured overseas.

It’s important to get adequate cover before you leave Australia. Fail to take out travel insurance and you might come home with a very expensive medical bill.

Some of the most common insurance claims are:

  • Moped or motorcycle accident injuries
  • Loss or theft of personal belongings
  • Bali belly (or Gastric flu)
  • Coral cuts
  • Loss or theft of jewellery
  • Rabies vaccinations

Comprehensive travel insurance can provide cover for a range of benefits at affordable prices. Cover may include:

  • Overseas emergency medical assistance and hospital expenses
  • Accidental death or permanent disability
  • Worldwide emergency assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Cancellation fees and lost deposits
  • Personal items lost, stolen or damaged
  • Car rental excess
  • Travel delay expenses
  • Funeral expenses

If you plan to engage in activities that are considered dangerous or high risk you’ll need to check your policy. Call your insurer to discuss the best cover for you. Remember:

  • If any accident or injury is the result of drug or alcohol use, you may not have cover.
  • If you hire a moped or motorcycle, you must wear a helmet and obey all traffic laws.
  • If you’re planning on riding a motorcycle, check with your travel insurer if you require a motorcycle licence to be covered.
  • Don’t leave getting travel insurance to the last minute. Buy your policy as soon as you’ve booked your flights so you’re covered for any unexpected cancellations before you travel.

For more information on what you should look for when buying a travel insurance policy for Bali, read our Bali Travel Insurance Guide.

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Dengue Fever

Besides traffic accidents, one of the most immediate health hazards to travellers in Indonesia is Dengue Fever. It’s a flu-like illness that’s very common in Bali.

  • Dengue Fever is spread by mosquitoes.
  • It’s common in densely populated areas.
  • There’s no vaccine for Dengue fever.
  • Mosquitoes can bite all year round, but the highest number of incidents occur between October and April.
  • Symptoms include high fever, pain behind the eyes, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and a skin rash. Head to a doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms.

Malaria

There is little to no risk of catching malaria in the main resort areas of Bali, but there is a higher risk of being infected if you plan to visit rural areas.

  • Malaria is spread by mosquitoes.
  • It’s common in rural areas or mountainous regions, with little or no risk in Bali.
  • There’s no vaccine for malaria.
  • The malaria mosquito is prevalent between dusk and dawn.
  • Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, kidney failure and coma. See a doctor immediately if you begin to experience these symptoms.

Japanese Encephalitis

Japanese Encephalitis is very rare but occurs in rural areas throughout Asia.

  • The Culex mosquito spreads Japanese Encephalitis throughout the rice growing areas where pig farming is common.
  • There is low risk of this disease in Bali but in very rare circumstances it can lead to death.
  • Symptoms include mild fever and headache. Seek medical assistance immediately if you start feeling these symptoms.

Rabies

Fifteen people died from rabies infections in 2015. Touching rabid animals such as monkeys or dogs increases your risks of being bitten and contracting the disease.

  • Rabies is spread by rabid animals (street dogs and monkeys).
  • It is common in Ubud’s Monkey Forest or near temples where there are food offerings.
  • Rabies has no early symptoms and can be fatal if not treated immediately.
  • If you are bitten, seek medical help immediately.

What vaccinations do I need for Bali?

There are no specific vaccines required for entry into Bali but you should visit your doctor for a general health check-up six to eight weeks before you travel. They’ll be able to provide you with advice regarding vaccinations.

Doctors may generally recommend the following vaccinations and ensure they’re up to date:

  • Typhoid
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella
  • Tetanus-Diphtheria

Visit the World Health Organization (WHO) for useful information about staying healthy when travelling.

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How to avoid mosquitoes in Bali

The dry season in Bali from May to September is hot and sunny with less chance of mosquitoes. The wet season from October to April has a higher risk of mosquito-borne illnesses spreading.

How to take precautions against mosquito bites:

  1. Wear long sleeves and long trousers.
  2. Sleep under mosquito nets.
  3. Use tropical strength mosquito repellent containing DEET (at least 30%). Spray it on your clothing too!
  4. Wear light coloured clothing - mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours.
  5. If you become sick seek medical help urgently.
  6. If you’re visiting a rural area take a course of malaria tablets before you leave home.
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Travel documents

Make sure all your travel documents are in order before you leave Australia. Store them in a secure location and scan and email them to yourself so you have access to digital copies from anywhere in the world.

  • Travel insurance policy – you need your travel insurance documents in case you become sick or injured and need to provide the details to medical staff.
  • Visa permit – if you’re staying in Bali for over 30 days*
  • Passport – you need at least six months’ validity on your passport or you’ll be denied travel. Keep your passport in the hotel safe or lock it in your luggage. It’s a good idea to bring photocopies of your passport in case it gets lost or stolen.
  • Copies of your itinerary
  • Airline tickets
  • Tour tickets
  • Hotel confirmations

Share your itinerary with family and close friends in case anything happens to you while you’re on holiday.

*Any visit longer than 30 days requires a visa. Contact the Indonesian Embassy or Consulate in Australia for further information.

Tourist visas and entry requirements for Bali

Tourists often forget to check their passport validity or visa requirements. Fortunately, the Indonesian Government has recently scrapped the need for Aussies to obtain a visa if their stay is under 30 days.

  • You need at least six months’ validity remaining on your passport from the date of entry into Bali.
  • For visits over 30 days contact the Indonesian Embassy or Consulate in Australia who will assist you further.
  • Remember to keep your boarding pass with you after getting off the plane in Bali. You’ll need to hand it to the Immigration Officer.

There are limits to what you can bring into the country.

  • Up to one litre of duty-free alcohol
  • 100 grams of tobacco or 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars
  • Perfume for personal use only
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Lost Passports

Keep your passport in a secure place. Use the hotel safe or keep it in your locked luggage.

If your passport is lost or stolen:

  • Immediately report it online or go directly to the Australian Consulate General in Bali.
  • Complete an Overseas Passport Application form.
  • Provide details of your old passport.
  • Attend an interview.
  • Prove your citizenship.
  • Pay an application fee and a fee for the lost/stolen passport.

Keep calm and try not to stress too much. Even experienced travellers have mishaps and things stolen from time to time – some even consider it a rite of passage.

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Packing tips for your Balinese holiday

Here’s a list of items which may help to keep you safe and healthy on your holiday:

Clothing and Accessories

  • A full brimmed hat and sunglasses to help you avoid sunburn
  • Good, sturdy walking shoes or sandals that cover your feet entirely
  • A raincoat and small umbrella
  • Long sleeved shirts and trousers to avoid mosquito bites
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Medication and Toiletries

  • SPF 30+ or 50+ sunscreen
  • Tropical strength insect repellent that includes DEET (minimum 30%)
  • Painkillers such as Nurofen or Panadol
  • Prescribed medication (check with your doctor if your medicine is legal in Indonesia)
  • First-aid kit for small insect bites and grazes
  • Hand sanitiser to reduce the risks of spreading germs
  • Mosquito net for sleeping
  • Tissues
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Travel Documents

  • Guidebooks
  • Passport with six months’ validity
  • Travel insurance policy
  • Hotel confirmations
  • Copies of your itinerary
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Money

  • ATM cards – ATMs can be found everywhere in the south of the island.
  • Emergency cash for times you can’t reach an ATM.
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What not to bring into Bali

Bali has strict laws concerning what you can bring into the country. You won’t be let in if you try to import more than a litre of alcohol, more than 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco, or perfume that is clearly not for personal use.

  • Don’t bring drugs into Bali
  • Check with your doctor if your prescription medication is allowed in Indonesia
  • Don’t bring expensive jewellery with you – you could be a target for thieves
  • Consider if you really need to bring your laptop, tablet, expensive camera or watch. Only bring the items you know you’ll use.
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What not to bring home with you from Bali

Don’t bring home:

  • Fireworks
  • Steroids
  • Banana leaf products
  • Animal products such as items made from bone, leather, skin or fur
  • Excessive amounts of cigarettes
  • Laser pointers
  • Anything that can be used as a weapon

These items won’t be allowed into Australia and you could face a hefty fine if you forget to declare them. The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection has a list of items which are not allowed into Australia.

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Transport and travelling around in Bali

 The safest option for getting around in Bali is using a reputable licensed taxi company.

You may also prefer to rent a car, motorcycle or a scooter, but be aware that these transport options come with their own set of risks.

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Taxis

Taxis are the most common form of transport for tourists and the most trusted taxis are from the Bluebird Taxi Company. Unfortunately there are some other taxi companies that cut costs wherever possible resulting in poor vehicle maintenance, rough suspension, and bald tyres.

Tips to choose a taxi driver:

  • Look for the trusted pale blue taxis from the Bluebird Taxi Company which has a large fleet of 500 late model vehicles.
  • The Bluebird Taxi company has a 24/7 phone line, so you can call and book a taxi with them.
  • Make sure the driver speaks English well enough for you to understand.
  • Check that the driver displays his photo ID card and has his meter on before you agree to the ride.
  • Be prepared to pay a 6,000 Rupiah flag fall [AUD 0.60c] and up to 6,000 Rupiah for every kilometre after that.
  • Females should be wary if travelling alone at night. Keep your wits about you and make note of the taxi number.
Tourist buses

Tourist shuttle buses are operated by a private bus line called Perama and offer a safe and convenient way to travel along the tourist trail. They publish their timetable online and you can use them with confidence to reach places like Sanur, Lovina, Padang Bai, Ubud, Candi Dasa and Mataram Senggigi.

Mopeds & Motorcycles

Many tourists use mopeds and motorbikes because they’re a convenient form of transport and the cheapest way to travel, but they may not always be the safest option.

If you decide to use a scooter, remember that accidents can happen at any time and travellers have been killed riding scooters and motorbikes in Bali as the road conditions aren’t to the standard that we’re used to at home.

Familiarise yourself with the road rules, wear a helmet, don’t drink or take drugs, and make sure you have a valid international motorcycle licence.

Public ferries

Perama also operates a fast boat to the Gili Islands. Public ferries transport passengers and vehicles to Lombok, but the service has a poor safety record. The trip is long and the ferries don’t conform to international safety standards. It’s best to avoid this ferry. If you must use the service be on your guard at all times as pickpockets also work the crowds on board.

Bemos

Bemos (minibuses with rows of seats down each side) are hard to find and usually only service the locals. They do not frequent the tourist areas so if you happen to catch one you could end up in unfamiliar territory with no way of getting back to the main tourist areas.

Renting a Car

Renting a car is a much safer alternative to renting a moped or motorcycle. If you’re planning to rent one make sure you ask for a pre-inspection report so you aren’t charged for damages you didn’t cause. Also note that most cars in Bali are uninsured so car insurance is your responsibility. Check with the hire company and your travel insurance provider what you may be liable for in the event of an accident.

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Taxis

Taxis are the most common form of transport for tourists and the most trusted taxis are from the Bluebird Taxi Company. Unfortunately there are some other taxi companies that cut costs wherever possible resulting in poor vehicle maintenance, rough suspension, and bald tyres.

Tips to choose a taxi driver:

  • Look for the trusted pale blue taxis from the Bluebird Taxi Company which has a large fleet of 500 late model vehicles.
  • The Bluebird Taxi company has a 24/7 phone line, so you can call and book a taxi with them.
  • Make sure the driver speaks English well enough for you to understand.
  • Check that the driver displays his photo ID card and has his meter on before you agree to the ride.
  • Be prepared to pay a 6,000 Rupiah flag fall [AUD 0.60c] and up to 6,000 Rupiah for every kilometre after that.
  • Females should be wary if travelling alone at night. Keep your wits about you and make note of the taxi number.
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Tourist buses

Tourist shuttle buses are operated by a private bus line called Perama and offer a safe and convenient way to travel along the tourist trail. They publish their timetable online and you can use them with confidence to reach places like Sanur, Lovina, Padang Bai, Ubud, Candi Dasa and Mataram Senggigi.

Mopeds & Motorcycles

Many tourists use mopeds and motorbikes because they’re a convenient form of transport and the cheapest way to travel, but they may not always be the safest option.

If you decide to use a scooter, remember that accidents can happen at any time and travellers have been killed riding scooters and motorbikes in Bali as the road conditions aren’t to the standard that we’re used to at home.

Familiarise yourself with the road rules, wear a helmet, don’t drink or take drugs, and make sure you have a valid international motorcycle licence.

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Public ferries

Perama also operates a fast boat to the Gili Islands. Public ferries transport passengers and vehicles to Lombok, but the service has a poor safety record. The trip is long and the ferries don’t conform to international safety standards. It’s best to avoid this ferry. If you must use the service be on your guard at all times as pickpockets also work the crowds on board.

Bemos

Bemos (minibuses with rows of seats down each side) are hard to find and usually only service the locals. They do not frequent the tourist areas so if you happen to catch one you could end up in unfamiliar territory with no way of getting back to the main tourist areas.

Renting a Car

Renting a car is a much safer alternative to renting a moped or motorcycle. If you’re planning to rent one make sure you ask for a pre-inspection report so you aren’t charged for damages you didn’t cause. Also note that most cars in Bali are uninsured so car insurance is your responsibility. Check with the hire company and your travel insurance provider what you may be liable for in the event of an accident.

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airport transfers

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Be wary of anyone who appears and offers to help you with your luggage when you arrive in Bali. Don’t accept assistance or transport from just anyone, as they may not be from a licensed taxi company.

There are a few ways to travel from Ngurah Rai airport to your accommodation:

Airport taxi

Airport taxis are the safest option to travel from the airport to your hotel. There is only one taxi service which operates from Ngurah Airport which has an attended counter and fixed prices. Drivers also carry an identification card. 

Shuttle bus

Another safe option is a hotel shuttle bus service. They are usually offered by your hotel or villa accommodation and will collect you directly from the airport. Drivers will wait for you at the arrivals hall and hold a sign up with your name on it.

Metered taxi

If you can’t catch an airport taxi or shuttle bus, metered taxis are the third safest option. Be aware that some drivers may not be registered taxis and may try to scam you. Reputable taxi drivers wear blue patterned shirts and work for the Bluebird Taxi Company. Note that catching a metered taxi may mean you end up paying a lot more than a fixed price taxi.

Is it safe to ride mopeds and motorcycles in Bali?

A moped or scooter can make getting around Bali very easy. But safety can be an issue due to the poor state of the roads. Accidents happen all the time and some of them can be fatal.

If you plan to rent a moped or motorcycle in Bali, there are certain things you need to be aware of. Safety should always be your main concern when hiring a moped. 

Am I covered by travel insurance? 

Always check with your travel insurance provider what your policy covers as there may be exclusions for riding motorbikes and scooters.

There are also some conditions that you should follow to keep you safe:

  • You must hold a valid Australian driver’s licence and International Driving Licence. Make sure you carry both with you when riding.
  • If you ride a bike over 50cc, you need an Australian motorcycle licence.
  • You must wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
  • Obey all laws and Balinese traffic rules.
  • Don’t speed. The majority of accidents are caused by speeding over poor road surfaces.
  • Don’t drink and drive or use other illicit substances and drive.
  • Read your Travel Insurance policy closely. Make sure you understand what you’re covered for.

There is a high risk of bikes being damaged or stolen. Sometimes the rental company is involved in the theft to cash in on your ‘bad luck’. If you’re in a difficult situation, you can call your travel insurance emergency assistance for advice.

For more information on selecting a travel insurance policy for riding motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, and what you should look out for, read our guide on Travel Insurance and Motorcycles.

Are the roads safe?

Tourists want to drive from the coast to the caves but often aren’t familiar with Balinese road quality. The roads aren’t the same as we're accustomed to in Australia and some are unsafe, especially after heavy rain.

  • If you’re crossing a street, pay attention to traffic and move across quickly. There are no rules for dealing with pedestrians in Bali.
  • Balinese drive on the left-hand side of the road. If you’re renting a car make sure you have a valid driver’s licence. You’ll also need an International Driving Permit, so remember to apply for this before you leave Australia.
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What are the most common scams in Bali?

Scam artists and thieves target tourists all over the world. Always keep your wits about you and trust your gut instinct if something doesn't seem right.

Some of the most common ones to watch out for in Bali include:

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Corrupt Police Officers

Corrupt traffic police are constantly on the lookout for tourists driving motorbikes or cars. They’ll slap a fine on you for bogus traffic violations and expect you to pay a bribe to be released.

While you could choose to settle these ‘fines’ immediately, we suggest you try to avoid driving wherever possible. There are local rules you may be unfamiliar with.

  • If you want to drive, familiarise yourself with all the rules and obey them.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Expect to be stopped by police.
  • Carry your international driver’s licence with you when driving.
  • If you’re stopped by corrupt police you’ll probably be expected to bribe your way out of the situation, however note that bribing is illegal in Bali so your best bet is to try to avoid the police where possible.
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Zen Driving Rules

  • Stay calm and don’t get frustrated or offended when driving.
  • Don't speed. Traffic doesn't get much faster than 40km/h.
  • Whatever you see in front of you is your responsibility.
  • Lane changing without notice is normal. Use your horn to overtake or get noticed.
  • Be alert, aware and fully conscious.
  • Don’t ever drink or take drugs and drive.
  • Share the road.
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Pickpockets

Pickpocketing is a career of its own in Bali. Thieves work alone or in groups and are masters at using various tactics to confuse and distract you.

  • Be alert in crowded places especially if you have to squeeze past people on the street or on public transport.
  • Don’t flash your cash and valuables around.
  • Be wary if a group of sellers crowd around you.
  • Keep your items close to you and wear clothing with zipper pockets.
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Temple Scams

Balinese temples are often filled with hordes of macaques (Balinese long-tailed monkey, a.k.a. natural-born pickpockets) who will snatch your belongings if left unattended. Occasionally you’ll see young boys who are familiar with the monkeys. They can get your items back for you – if you pay them a big fee.

Keep your belongings close to you and be wary of the monkeys. They can become aggressive and bite you putting you at risk of rabies infection.

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Taxi Scams

Don’t negotiate fares with taxi drivers on your own, as they’ll always come out on top financially. They use tactics such as saying their meter is broken or take you the long way to a close destination.

If you think they’re trying to scam you, be polite, refuse the demand, take note of their ID and threaten to call the police – they’ll usually be more reasonable after that!

  • Be aware of your luggage when catching a taxi.
  • Keep your valuable items with you in the car and don’t place them in the boot. You may accidentally forget them or the driver may speed off with them!
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Other Scams

  • ‘Students’ approach you asking you to complete a survey. Don’t share your hotel or contact details. If you do they will call you later to redeem a free breakfast or lunch with a free pickup in a hotel somewhere else. You’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere with sales people pushing you to buy an expensive timeshare and if you say no, they will leave you stranded with no way to get back to your hotel.
  • Fish restaurants ask you to choose a live fish/lobster from the tank. Keep in mind this fish/lobster will be much more expensive than the advertised price on the menu.
  • Foreign exchange shops also have scams.
  • Surfers should check any surfboards they hire for cracks. Some hire shops glue broken boards back together. If they break while you use them the hire shop will demand compensation.

What's the safest option for spending money in Bali?

The everyday currency used is the Indonesian Rupiah but many hotels and villas will quote in American dollars.

One of the most flexible and safest options for tourists is a Travel Money Card which allows you to access your money at a fixed exchange rate.

Credit Cards
  • You won’t have any issues using a credit card in tourist areas but they won’t be accepted in rural areas.
  • Shops may add surcharges if you pay by credit card.
  • Service and government taxes of between 10-21% are charged in hotels and villas. This is listed at the bottom of your final bill.
  • Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted cards. American Express is rarely accepted.
  • Be aware of credit card fraud.
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Foreign Exchange
  • Exchange larger notes to get better rates.
  • Money changers offer a better rate than banks. However, be wary of smaller exchange shops (see Hole in the Wall Money Changers).
  • Never let anyone touch your Rupiah after you have counted it. Notes will magically disappear!
  • If you find you’ve been skimmed go back and ask for the rest of your money. Money changers keep a ledger of their skimming activities.
  • All foreign currency should be exchanged at authorised money changers or banks. Major Banks in Bali are: Bank BCA, Bank MandiriBNI, Bank Danamon, CIMB Niaga.
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ATMs

In recent years there have been cameras and fake keypads installed in ATM machines throughout Bali. These skimming devices gather your personal information and use it to withdraw money from your bank account.

  • Use ATMs that are attached to banks that have security guards. Use them during business hours only.
  • Be cautious if people are hanging around the ATM. 
  • Check the ATM by trying to move the slot where you put your card in. Check the keypad. If they are loose, the ATM may have a skimming device attached. 
  • Check your bank account regularly.
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'Hole in the Wall' Money Changers
  • Often located down an alley or laneway.
  • Avoid these at all costs as they may charge you a hefty commission.
  • Smaller foreign exchange shops will also use calculators that have been tampered with and work in their favour. Use your own phone or calculator to make sure their calculations add up.
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Eating & Drinking in Bali

Dining in Bali

Enjoy the food in Bali but select your restaurants carefully. Some restaurants or street food stalls lack basic hygiene standards and may not wash their hands, plates or utensils properly.

  • Choose restaurants or street stalls with a high turnover and lots of locals.
  • Don’t eat food that’s been sitting around all day as it may be contaminated. Choose food that is cooked to order only.
  • Ask for meat and fish to be well done.
  • Good restaurants are well known amongst tourists. Ask around for advice or ask your hotel for recommendations.
  • Don’t over indulge in spicy food or tropical fruit.

Drinking Water

Stay hydrated to avoid heatstroke but don’t drink the tap water. Bali’s water is still of questionable quality and drinking it can lead to traveller’s diarrhoea (Bali Belly).

  • Buy bottled water instead which is available in restaurants and shops.
  • If you’re buying water from smaller shops, check the seal hasn’t been tampered with before drinking.
  • Hotels and villas will usually stock your room with bottled water.
  • Use bottled water for brushing your teeth and keep your mouth closed in the shower too.
  • If you have to drink the tap water boil it for at least five minutes before drinking.
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Drinking too much alcohol makes you an easier target for robbery, sexual assault and scams. If you drink to excess and something bad happens, your travel insurance may be void.

Some tips to remember:

  • Alcoholic drinks are much stronger in Bali.
  • There’s an increased risk of drink spiking and methanol poisoning, found in home-brewed alcohol (Arak) which isn't distilled correctly.
  • Any alcoholic drink can be spiked with harmful substances.
  • Symptoms of methanol poisoning include headaches, dizziness, amnesia, and drowsiness. If these occur head straight to the nearest hospital.
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DRINK WISELY

Tips to stay safe
  1. Avoid drinking Arak.
  2. Be wary of cocktails and drinks made with spirits.
  3. If you’re going to drink spirits, buy an unopened bottle of a brand you know.
  4. Drink only at licensed premises which are well-known by tourists.
  5. Keep an eye on your drink to avoid it being spiked.
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Illegal drugs in Bali

Indonesia has harsh laws when it comes to drugs. If you plan on buying, selling or taking drugs in Bali, think again!

Visitors to Indonesia are greeted by a sign saying ‘Death to Drug Traffickers’ and this sentiment extends to drug users as well.

Don’t do drugs in Bali! No one wants to end up in a Kerobokan prison.

If you get caught with drugs:

  • Penalties will be severe and include heavy fines, imprisonment or death.
  • The Australian Government can’t offer you much assistance.
  • Your travel insurance is void.
  • If you take prescription drugs check with the Indonesian Embassy if they’re legal in Bali. Some medications available in Australia may be considered illegal in Indonesia.

Drug dealers work with corrupt police and sometimes plant drugs in tourist’s bags. If you’re concerned, lock your luggage or have it wrapped at the airport before you leave Australia.

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Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Prostitution is big business in Bali but it’s illegal. Night butterflies (local male and female prostitutes) are common in the many discos, bars, and clubs. They offer their discreet services in exchange for money.

It’s important to practise safe sex so that you minimise your risk of STIs and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common when travelling. Bring protection (condoms) with you which meets international safety standards.

STIs are generally not covered by travel insurance.

Keep your belongings safe if you do engage in after-hours activities. Many tourists have woken to find their wallet or jewellery missing.

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Getting a tattoo, henna or piercings in Bali

Lots of backpackers get tattoos in Bali but there are plenty of parlours that don’t meet international safety standards. Remember that HIV and other diseases can be spread by tattoo needles, so think before you ink!

If you’re going to get a tattoo in Bali against all advice, make sure you thoroughly research parlours and safety standards.

  • Check the parlour’s certification and reputation amongst tourists.
  • Check that the parlour follows strict practices such as using single-use needles and medical sterilisers, and maintaining hospital grade hygiene standards.
Henna tattoos

A temporary henna tattoo is a better alternative. But not all henna is the same. There are two types of henna offered:

Natural henna

  • Natural henna is a lighter red.
  • It’s temporary, fading away over three weeks.

Black henna

  • Black henna is made from hair dye containing paraphenylenediamine (PPD) and is not for use on your skin.
  • It can cause reactions such as itchiness, blistering, and permanent scars.

Before getting a henna tattoo make sure it’s natural henna.

Piercings

Be careful if you decide to get a body piercing. Take the time to thoroughly research artists and parlours. Infections are common and many tourists have to redo their piercings when they return home.

  • Piercings can become infected when mixed with sweat, heat, and salt water.
  • No regulations govern the Balinese body art industry. 

Is it safe to have elective medical procedures and dental procedures in Bali?

Elective medical and dental procedures are considerably less expensive in Bali than they are in Australia.

Aussies often take advantage of their holiday and choose to have cosmetic or dental surgery while they’re overseas.

However, these surgeries are considered high risk and your travel insurance policy won’t cover you for any of them. You also won’t be covered if you’re too sick after having surgery to fly home on your scheduled flight.

If you have complications from the surgery and need to fly home urgently, you’re not covered either.

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BALI
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BELLY

Traveller’s diarrhoea is also known as 'Bali Belly' and is brought on by exposure to new varieties of E. Coli Bacteria most commonly found in contaminated food and water.

What are the symptoms of Bali Belly?
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal bloating and cramps
  • Weakness, discomfort or fatigue
  • Urgency to go to the toilet
  • Loose or watery stools

Bali Belly is treatable and usually resolves itself within 48 hours, but sometimes it can take up to a week to completely clear.

How to minimise your risk of Bali belly and food poisoning:
  • Drink bottled water only. Ask for no ice with your drinks as the ice may have been made with local water.
  • Wash your hands regularly and use a hand sanitiser to eliminate germs, especially before eating and after handling money.
  • Choose street food vendors and restaurants that are clean with a fast turnover and an excellent reputation amongst tourists.
  • Eat freshly cooked foods that are still hot.
  • Avoid raw or partially cooked foods, especially fish and uncooked dairy products.
  • Only eat fruits that you’ve peeled yourself.
  • Take probiotics for a few weeks before you leave. They can help build up the good bacteria in your digestive system.

Ask for your doctor’s advice before you leave home. If you do experience Bali Belly symptoms, take some Imodium or ask the hotel or villa doctor to prescribe medication for you.

What adventure activities are popular in Bali?

Bali is a popular holiday destination for adventurous travellers who enjoy outdoor sports and activities.

Some of the most popular adventure activities in Bali include:

  • Surfing
  • Moped riding
  • Cycling
  • Hiking and trekking
  • Scuba diving
  • Windsurfing and paddle surfing
  • Kayaking/Canoeing
  • Zip lining
  • Zorbing

Travel insurers generally provide cover for a range of activities automatically, while others will either not be covered or can be covered with the payment of an additional premium.

If you’re planning on riding a motorcycle you must have an Australian motorcycle licence. If you drive without one and have an accident, your cover is void.

Speak to your travel insurer about getting the best insurance to cover you for a range of adventure sports and activities.

motorcycle riding

Claim Example*

ambulance medical emergency

Vinnie rented a motorcycle while in Bali. Unfortunately, the road conditions in Bali aren't of the standard that we have in Australia. While riding on a back country road, his motorcycle hit a pothole and he crashed into a steep ditch.

Fortunately, Vinnie escaped serious injury but had some nasty gashes which needed to be treated at a medical centre. He had to return to the medical centre several times during his holiday to have his wounds redressed so they wouldn’t become infected. The whole experience costed him thousands of dollars.

*Stories are fictitious examples drawn from the experiences of Fast Cover travellers and staff. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Is Bali safe for Schoolies Week?

Bali has become a hot spot for thousands of school leavers looking to celebrate the end of their education. Almost 6,000 students headed to Bali during schoolies week in 2015.

It’s wise to remember these important safety tips:

Stay with your friends - attend parties in a group so you avoid being stranded alone in an unfamiliar place.

  • Stay away from cheap cocktails, shots, spirits and mixers.
  • Don’t accept drugs from anyone. Drugs are illegal in Bali.
  • Order from bars where you can see drinks being made in front of you.
  • Be aware of interference from older or corrupt people.
  • Book an organised schoolies tour with companies who value your safety and provide safe, secure places to party.

For more information, see our Travel Insurance for Schoolies Week guide.

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Can I plan a destination wedding in Bali?

Many couples plan to exchange their vows and enjoy a wonderful honeymoon in beautiful Bali.

Remember these tips so your wedding goes off without a hitch:

  • Research the wedding companies you’re interested in dealing with. Some shonky companies have accepted payments and not booked any venues.
  • If you need to transport guests, book drivers from a reputable taxi company only.
  • Make sure the hotel provides bottled water to all your guests during the reception.
  • Leave your engagement ring at home and just wear the wedding band – you may become a target for theft if you’re flashing a shiny diamond around.
  • Remember to lock your valuable items away in the hotel safe or in your luggage – it’s easy to forget about safety in the frenzy of wedding preparations!
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Is Bali safe for LGBTQI travellers?

Bali is one of the top ten LGBT destinations in the world. Homosexuality is not illegal but public displays of affection, whether straight or gay, are generally frowned upon.

  • Seminyak has an open gay scene as well as plenty of gay-friendly accommodation, bars and nightclubs.
  • Lombok is a Muslim island. You may have trouble finding suitable accommodation if you’re gay.
  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and straight travellers should refrain from public displays of affection on Lombok.
  • Gay men are referred to as ‘homo’ or ‘gay’ in Bali.
  • Female impersonators are known as ‘waria’.
  • The legal age of consent for sex is 16 years.

In recent months, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body called for legislation banning LGBT travellers.

  • Speak to other LGBTQI travellers about safe locations for socialising.
  • Be wary of new friends who may want to exploit you because of your sexuality or cause harm to you.
  • Be aware of the risks of HIV and STIs.
  • Follow the local laws even if they are out of touch with Australian values.
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Important information for families on holiday in Bali

If you’re travelling with babies or toddlers, there are a few things to be aware of.

  • Villas often have unfenced swimming pools with no wall between your living area and the pool. You can hire a pool fence from Baby Service Bali or you could hire a villa that is fully enclosed.
  • Baby car seats aren’t common. You’ll need to bring one from home or rent one for the duration of your stay.
  • You don’t often see high chairs in Balinese restaurants. Bali Bubs offers anything and everything you need for baby safety. You can rent them online and have the items waiting for you on arrival.
  • Hotels and resorts provide baby cots but they aren’t always available and may not meet international safety regulations.
  • There are plenty of resorts that cater for kids from purpose-built kids clubs to fun activities for little guests. The top resorts in Bali offer attractive cultural programs and an island experience you can share with the entire family.
Am I allowed to publicly breastfeed in Bali?

Breastfeeding in public is perfectly acceptable in Bali. Breastfeed as you would at home, with discretion and consideration for yourself and others.

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Bali Beach Safety

Swim between the flags

There is a flag system in place on Bali beaches just like there is in Australia, however it’s rare to find a patrolled beach in Bali. You should always be aware of your swimming ability and not risk swimming in rougher conditions or far from the shore if you aren’t a confident swimmer.

Also remember that nude bathing is prohibited. Keep your swimmers on!

Sunburn and sunstroke

Indonesia is hot and humid. If you get sunstroke, you’re in trouble. Sunstroke is a medical emergency where your body temperature can skyrocket to over 40°C. Seek medical help urgently if you experience any symptoms including:

  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness, confusion, and a loss of coordination
  • Fits
  • Loss of consciousness
Preventing sunstroke
  • Always carry clean bottled water with you.
  • Cover up regularly with SPF 30+ Sunscreen.
  • Remember the sun is the most intense between 10am and 3 pm so plan indoor activities or stay in the shade during this period.
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles is common, so avoid excess activity in the heat.
  • Wear loose clothing.
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  • Red Flags

    red flag
  • Yellow & Red Flags

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  • No Flags

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  • No swimming! There are dangerous currents and riptides.

  • These beaches are usually the safest to swim in.

  • There is definitely no one on patrol.

  • Red Flags

    red flag

    No swimming! There are dangerous currents and riptides.

  • Yellow & Red Flags

    yellow flag

    These beaches are usually the safest to swim in.

  • No Flags

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    There is definitely no one on patrol.

What is the risk of natural disasters in Bali?

Indonesia is vulnerable to a range of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and volcanic eruptions.

  • The fault line which caused the 2004 tsunami runs south of Bali in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, and is known as the Ring of Fire.
  • Bali is a high-risk area for regular earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.
  • Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Candi Dasa, Sanur, Jimbaran Bay, and Tanjung Benoa are at risk of extreme flooding.

Tsunamis

Southern Bali (Kuta, Sanur and Tanjung Benoa) can be easily swamped if a tsunami occurs.

  • High-risk zones are red
  • Lower risk zones are yellow

If a tsunami occurs a siren will be activated letting you know you have fifteen minutes to leave the red zones.

  • Evacuate the red zones immediately.
  • Get to a yellow zone or the nearest evacuation centre. Follow the lead of authorities who are trained to assist in emergency evacuations.
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Earthquakes

Strong earthquakes can trigger a range of catastrophes from tsunamis to heavy flooding, all resulting in loss of life.

  • If an earthquake strikes while you’re indoors, move to the smallest room or a doorway as these are the strongest parts of a building. You could also hide under a table for shelter from falling ceilings.
  • If you’re outside move to open space away from any buildings that could fall on you.
  • If you’re at the beach leave immediately even if the siren hasn’t been activated. A tsunami may be approaching.
  • If the earthquake is at sea head to higher ground and follow the direction of local authorities.
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Volcanic Eruptions

Even if you’re nowhere near a volcano, your travel plans may be affected.

  • Holidays to Bali were disrupted in July 2015 when Mount Raung erupted.
  • Volcanic ash caused Ngurah airport to close cancelling 692 international and domestic flights.
  • In October 2015 Mount Rinjani erupted on Lombok grounded all flights for several days.
  • Mount Agung is Bali’s most active volcano. It’s the highest point on the island.
  • Mount Batur is located in the middle of two volcanic depressions northwest of Mount Agung. These depressions are created from large explosive eruptions.
  • Mount Rinjani is located on Lombok surrounded by a cobalt lake.
  • Mount Raung is located on the island of Java.

Ash clouds from an eruption can affect flights.

  • Check local alerts before you visit any of these volcanoes.
  • Check with your airline if your plane has been delayed.
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Flooding

October to March brings the wet season where Bali experiences annual flooding and mudslides. Downpours are common so during the wet season expect to see at least one per day.

  • Travel between April and October to avoid flooding.
  • Be aware when driving. Dangerous flooding can occur making roads unsafe.
  • Carry wet weather gear so you aren’t confined to your hotel room.

Natural disasters should not be taken lightly, no matter how minor they may seem at first. The situation can quickly escalate and become dangerous.

Pay close attention to emergency procedures and monitor any local or government warnings.

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EMERGENCY INFORMATION

What to do in a medical emergency

Accidents happen. Familiarise yourself with the location of the nearest hospital as you will need to get there quickly if someone becomes seriously ill or injured.

  1. Call an Ambulance by dialling 118 (if you don’t need an ambulance, call 112)
  2. Inform hotel reception. They will be equipped to help in most situations.
  3. Ask for help. Balinese are friendly people and are willing to help in an emergency.
  4. Get a medical report from the doctor – you’ll need this for your insurance claim.
  5. Contact your travel insurer. They will provide 24-hour emergency assistance.
Important Contacts
  • Siloam Public Hospital Kuta, Badung Regency
  • Ngurah Rai International Airport, Jalan Raya Gusti Ngurah Rai, 80362
  • Australian Consulate-General, Jalan Tantular No. 32, Renon, 80234

What to do in a non-medical emergency

If something happens to you that doesn’t require emergency medical assistance and you need help, follow these rules:

  • Stay calm. If you are the victim of a robbery, don’t fight back. Your life is more important than your belongings.
  • Let your tour guide know what has happened.
  • Report the incident to the police. Make sure you get a police report within 24 hours of the incident.
  • Report the incident to the Australian embassy. They can offer assistance to you, especially if you have trouble with the local law.
  • Contact your bank and cancel all your cards.
  • If your hotel keys were taken let the hotel know immediately. They will arrange for replacement locks and keys.
  • If you have no access to your cash or accounts contact a family member or friend to transfer you some money.
  • Call your travel insurer for help and check what you’d be covered for.
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How to keep in contact while in Bali

Save emergency numbers into your mobile phone so they are available to you if something bad happens. In an emergency or if you need assistance, contact your travel insurance company ASAP.

Internet
  • Most major hotels will have a business centre or free wifi you can use, but consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) if you need to access private data like your bank details.
  • Remember to logout of all email accounts or banking websites when you have finished.
SIM Cards and Phones

There are no public telephones in Bali. You can rent a mobile phone or you can purchase a prepaid SIM card which you can use in your unlocked phone. Prepaid SIMs are available from the local post office or any shop displaying the major brand logos:

  • Telkomsel
  • XL
  • Indosat
  • AXIX
  • Tri “3”
  • Hutchison Telecommunications
  • Smart Telecom
Calling an Australian landline from Indonesia:

International Direct Dial (IDD) code - 61 (Country Code for Australia) - Area Code - Land phone number.

*Your IDD code will depend on your service provider.

*e.g. 02 for NSW/ACT or 03 for VIC

Calling an Australian mobile from Indonesia:

IDD code - 61 - Nine digit mobile phone number (omit the ‘0’).

Calling an Indonesian landline from Australia:

0011 (to call outside Australia) - 62 (Country code for Indonesia) - Area Code - Land phone number.

Calling an Indonesian mobile from Australia:

0011 (to call outside Australia) - 62 (Country code for Indonesia) - 9, 10 or 11 Digit mobile number.

Indonesia Phone Code: 62

Jakarta Area Code: 21

Jakarta Dial Code: +62 21

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Important contact information and resources

Register your intended trip on the Smartraveller website. Registering your trip will allow Smartraveller to send you an alert if there is a threat such as an earthquake, terrorist attack or tsunami.

Your family will be advised of your status if you are involved in any dangerous situations.

Keep this list handy:

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Assistance in Bali

  • Emergency Call Number: 112
  • Police 110 or (0361) 751598
  • Ambulance 118 or (0361) 257550
  • Tourist Police (0361) 155 4 or (0361) 754 599
  • Bali Taxi (0361) 701111
  • Bali Government Tourism Office (0361) 222387
  • Australian Consulate-General (Australian Embassy in Bali) phone: +62 361 2000100

The Australian Government provides 24 hour consular assistance.

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
  • +61 421 269 080 for SMS
  • 1300 555 135 from within Australia
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Top Bali health and safety tips:

  1. Register your itinerary and contact details for Bali with DFAT.
  2. Consider buying travel insurance as soon as you book your trip to Bali, so you’re covered for cancellations. Make sure to also read the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).
  3. Visit your doctor for a general check-up and discuss your vaccinations.
  4. Share your itinerary with family and friends, including your hotel contact details.
  5. Make copies of your passport and applicable visa permits and store them in your email inbox. Keep your passport secure.
  6. Check with Smartraveller for any threats to your travel plans.
  7. Read up about local scams so you are aware and alert from the moment you arrive in Bali.
  8. Research tour companies, taxi companies, and accommodation thoroughly before travelling.
  9. Avoid illegal drugs and refuse them if you are offered.
  10. Practice safe sex. STIs are common.
  11. Keep an emergency stash of money. Use the hotel safe or keep it on you in your shoes.
  12. Familiarise yourself with the location of the local embassy and the main hospital.
  13. Load emergency numbers into your mobile phone.
  14. Buy a Travel Card before you leave Australia.
  15. Have your luggage wrapped at the airport to avoid any nasty surprises.
  16. Leave your handbag at home – a day backpack is easier to secure and harder for pickpockets to snatch.
  17. Think before you ink! The risk of infection from unsterilized tattoo equipment is higher in Bali.
  18. Avoid the potential for rabies infection by not touching monkeys and dogs.
  19. Use taxis from the Bluebird Company.

Need more tips on what you need to do to prepare for your trip? Find out with our article on the Top 30 Tips To Prepare For Your Trip.

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*Stories are fictitious examples drawn from the experiences of Fast Cover travellers and staff. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Bali Health and Safety Guide Articles

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